We recently went to see Femi Oyeniran’s brand new street thriller, ‘The Intent’. Having caught up with Femi, on the inspiration behind the film and how he wanted to make it a British version of American productions like ‘Paid In Full’ and ’Belly’, I was curious to see if it would live up to the hype. Watching the film, my reaction was one of ambivalence. On one hand, I thought that the acting was good, and each role was executed well. Scorcher, who was one of the leads, fulfilled his character as the ruthless ‘Hoodz’, showing a lack of remorse for his actions throughout the film. Dylan Duffus was the yin to his yang, playing the cerebral ‘Gunz’, an undercover police officer who becomes part of the TIC gang, and is nearly consumed by his new way of life. The pair were convincing in their roles as petty drug dealers converting to armed robbers, but Hoodz’s trigger happy nature was confusing as were the number of shooting incidents within the movie. Although a culture of gun crime does exist within the UK, it is definitely not on the level of what occurs across the pond in the USA, and so I struggled to find certain scenes believable.
The other members of the TIC gang, Top Boy’s Shone Romulus as ‘D Angel’, and Femi Oyeniran as ‘Mitch’, also deserve praise for their performances, with the latter showing his versatility as an actor given his meek nature in this particular film having played more serious/comic roles in other productions. In addition, Femi’s fellow writer and producer, Nicky Slimting was excellent as ‘Shane’ in conveying his strife and feelings of betrayal having done time in prison for his cousin (who I won’t mention for spoiler reasons).The experienced Ashley Chin also stood out for me personally, playing the cool, calm and collected ‘G Money’, part of the rival crew gang. Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised by the big screen debuts of Krept & Konan, and Fekky. Their cameos added texture and increased the appeal of the film given their name value but they were clearly not just selected for the fact that they are well known artists. Their acting was excellent, combining their gangster personas with moments of comedy, Krept at one point leaving me in fits of laughter. Finally, Sarah Akokhia and Jade Asha both play strong female characters in their own respective way, with the latter initially portrayed as a victim, but her subsequent actions showing resolve.
As good as the acting was I felt that the script did have flaws, one being the heavy gun use outlined above. The film, especially in the early stages felt rushed and lacked structured explanation in certain segments. In the first thirteen minutes of the film, we see Gunz as a young boy holding a gun, a street mugging, an armed robbery and a murder. Trying to fit such content in a short period of time led to a lack of suspense and build up, which seemed to persist throughout the film. Even the one moment of intimacy in the film was not clear in terms of the transition of characters from the nightclub to the house. However this particular scene definitely added to the best twist in the film.
Overall, my feelings on the movie are mixed. Great acting was balanced out by a screenplay which may have been too fast-paced for its own good, despite the film being a thriller. However what needs to be kept in mind is that the movie was shot in only 2 and a half weeks, which is a very short turnaround time. It did not have a big budget, and also set a very high bar in terms of the films they were attempting to replicate. When we spoke to Femi, he was open about his production and directing journeys being in their infancy, however he prides himself on constant improvement. All factors considered, this sentiment was consistent with ‘The Intent’ – a significant improvement on prior work, but a lot of room for growth. The film is worth a watch, and I’ll definitely be looking out for future productions by Femi and Nicky.